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Daniel P Brown against the CIA, the Catholic Church and the Kennedy clan

(Updated 2023.10.28)

This is about Dr. Daniel P Brown. He died in April 2022. An obituary in the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis describes him as "probably the most advanced meditation master in the western hemisphere".

A foto  of the deceased Danien P Brown

He was interviewed in 2021 in the "Unknown Philosophers" series. This describes him: a great mind with enormous productivity, but little visibility compared to the likes of Jack Kornfield Inc. He is present on Youtube, here a playlist collected by someone in gratitude.

Through Dr. Brown's Level 1 Mahamudra retreat, in February 2021 I experienced, that deep meditative and some psychedelic experiences can be very similar.

He has condensed the entire Buddhist path across traditions into a single model praised by Ken Wilber, with whom he wrote a book. He has trained with the Dalai Lama. He has translated a vast amount of Buddhist literature from Tibetan to English. He founded "Pointing Out the Great Way" to help rebuild the Tibetan traditions in Tibet. He has taught CEOs about effectiveness. He has taught meditation for 40 years. He has written and co-edited books on hypnosis and attachment theory.

What else has he done that made him an enemy of the Catholic Church, the CIA, and the Kennedy family?

His is one of the more astonishing lives. "Viel Feind, viel Ehr´" is a German proverb: you have many enemies if you have a high degree of honour. This is the case with Daniel P Brown, who eventually even fell into discord with his own foundation.

Dr. Brown is a Buddhist meditation teacher with a vast background

I know Dr. Brown from an astonishing online 6-day Mahamudra retreat in Feb 2021. Already somewhat impaired by Parkinson´s disease, Dr. Brown and his team gave me a completely unexpected deep experience and shift of mind.

He is most certainly one of the lesser-known (to the public) but incredibly important figures in rescuing the Tibetan culture. A part of this is the collection of important works of the Bon tradition. His translations are shown below (the exception being "Moonbeams of Mahamudra").

My position towards some of his teachings

There is no one among who I got to know personally for whom I could muster more admiration for the lifetime achievement, and the rigour of analysis and teaching, except for Stanislav Grof.

But, as Dr. Brown himself says: "you can´t get everything right for everybody". Thus, I have some difficulty following his explanations on the dying process of the Tibetan yogi in the "Dying East and West" interview with The Stoa. In this interview, he was confronted with a highly aggressive show guest. That questioner put in doubt the miraculous rainbow body and the rebirth concepts.

Equally, his very literal view on enlightenment and re-incarnation in different roles do not hit a note in me, as in the Buddha at the Gaspump interview.

But who am I? Occasionally only an experience may be convincing enough. It is my impression that Dr. Brown is very deeply immersed in the Tibetan culture, and, given my change of assumptions after a psychedelic experience has convinced me that my beliefs are thoroughly limited.

Making the catholic church your enemy by prosecuting abusive priests

The Catholic Church is an institution set up as a safe room for child molesters. This is approximately the view of Dr. Brown (not a verbal quote but my interpretation of statements coming close to this) of the Catholic church.

He has worked as an expert in hundreds of cases on the side of victims, where Catholic priests had been accused of child molestation. This affair is constantly bringing to light new abuses.

For example, he was involved in most of the cases in the semi-documentary movie "Spotlight" with Michael Keaton.

One of his last cases was the Australian Bishop George Pell. Eventually the Australian High Court quashed the initially upheld sentencing.

I have no further insight what is the truth, but if I had to bet - given that the Catholic Church is a viper´s nest of abusive and criminal behavior that remains unpunished - I give more credibility to Daniel P Brown.

Update: as of July 2022 there is another abuse related court case against Pell.

Making the CIA, the tax authority, and the Kennedy family your enemy by defending the assassin of Robert Kennedy

In August 2021, the assassin of Robert Kennedy, Sirhan Sirhan, was released on parole.

This immediately raised the protest of the Kennedy family.

Parole was denied, but re-requested in 2022.

Dr Daniel P Brown may have played a big role in this, at least in the long run. for over 15 years, Dr Brown has fought for Sirhan´s rehabilitation. Why?

Dr Brown is convinced, that Sirhan Sirhan was set up, most likely by the CIA, by hypnotic techniques. Dr Brown is also an expert in clinical hypnosis, so his judgement, while I have no means to verify it, has some credibility.

His deep expertise has been acknowledged through his participation as expert in cases of child abuse of the Catholic Church (see above) and also in war crime persecutions.

Dr Brown details his side of the story in this long Youtube interview. Here he also mentions which personal consequences his involvement had: basically an attempt by the IRA to destroy him through audits.

Whatever one may believe, this is an interesting story, and a further complication of the Kennedy murder mysteries (all of which affected me...)

Update on Dr Brown and the CIA´s "Operation Phoenix"

I am speculating here. However, it seems entirely reasonable to me that Dr Brown´s attitude of the CIA had been informed through his trauma work. In an interview in 2022 he described his first exposure to trauma work:

Well, I became interested in trauma in 1978 and there was somebody who took a three day hypnosis course. She was a social worker by the name of Sarah Haley. She was one of the three founding members of the International Society the Study of Traumatic Stress. And she took this hypnosis course and she was taken by the effectiveness of hypnosis and we made a trade. And the trade was that I would teach her hypnosis in exchange for which she would teach me about trauma. And, so we supervised each other’s work and she sent me a lot of cases about trauma. And it was trial by fire because the cases that she sent me originally were kids in Operation Phoenix who were trained to be little killing machines, to kill an entire village by hand at night.

The NYT described Operation Phoenix (here on Wikipedia):

The Phoenix program would become one of the most controversial aspects of America’s war in Vietnam. Sponsored by the C.I.A., Phoenix used paramilitary teams to target undercover Communist operatives in villages throughout South Vietnam. Witnesses claimed that members of the program’s teams and their American advisers routinely carried out torture, murders and assassinations, accusations that American officials denied.

How to be called bullshit upon

Of course, any original head like Dr Brown may have ideas that are not to everyone's taste.

One of his more controversial ideas are about the dying process, and in particular, ways of death and rebirth as seen in Tibetan Buddhism.

This includes, for example, beliefs about rainbow body, and about rebirth that are founded on his 50 years of experience - but nothing else, and not always firsthand evidence.

For example, in one YouTube interview an enraged participant in quite an angry manner uttered "I call bullshit upon you all over the place" (ca 1:12 ff) .

This must have been the first time in his life when Dr Brown had to deal with this kind of aggressivity publicly . His reply, after a short pause: "Well I can't make everybody happy".

Making his own foundation an adversary

Dr Daniel P Brown was a great man. Great men are special, and can be complex personalities.

And in the end, his complexity and stubbornness led to a public separation from his own foundation in a way that was not easy for anyone involved.

So there are now three sites (as of January 2023)

This is a Chatbot produced summary of the "What happened" page, written from the perspective of the Mustang Bon Foundation:

Pointing Out The Great Way Foundation was established in 2012 as a non-profit foundation to support projects that benefit the lineages where Dr. Dan Brown's teachings originated. The foundation was initially set up to provide opportunities for students responding to Dr. Dan Brown's meditation retreats to give back, accumulate merit according to Buddhist traditions, and support various endeavors, such as translating Tibetan texts into English and preserving Tibetan culture. In 2017, Carl Maxey and Dan Brown proposed building a monastery in Jomsom, Nepal, which was later opposed by the US Board of POGW Foundation. In 2019, the US Board proposed an alternate plan, which Dan Brown disagreed with, and asked the entire board to step down so he could appoint new board members of his choosing. This action was not in line with the By-Laws of the Foundation, and Board members declined based on their fiduciary responsibility to the donors and projects. In July 2021, the Board and Dan Brown mutually agreed to dissolve their association, and the Board agreed to change the Foundation's name so as not to be confused with Dan's for-profit company, Pointing Out Way. However, Dan's communication to his students and various sangha members resulted in him threatening to sue the Board and individual Board members. As a result, Dan's lawyer demanded the Board have no communication with Dan, and all discussions or attempts to resolve the separation ceased.

According to what I know, money and intellectually property played a role too. There are different ways one can think about copyrighting the Buddhist tradition, or charging for it, for example. Saying this I do not impute any bad, immoral or greedy intentions to anyone involved. Daniel P Brown certainly was never out for riches. One only has to listen his story about his trouble with the IRS who made an enemy out of him.

But still, I refrained from purchasing a seminar recording due to the risk of being sued for "hundred-thousands of dollars" (quote from contract) by US lawyers in case of any use of the intellectual property ("structure and languaging") with anyone except my spouse. And she would have to be certified at the same level as me. And furthermore, my spouse would only be certifiable by the Pointing Out the Great Way foundation. And furthermore, the original foundation have stopped all teaching activity. The website is erroneous and outdated, no courses are offered. (Updated 2023.06.21: The website has now changed, and it seems that it will be updated with material from Dr Brown. However, no new courses or classes are announced).

So, even with best intentions, my spouse has no chance to be certified to any level, and sharing anything with her would theoretically expose me to litigation. I find this just unacceptably restrictive, given that the foundation has gone silent.

Whether this is really required to protect "the precious teachings", can be debated, there are pros and cons. As much as I see the value of Dr Brown´s work, admire the dedication, rigorosity, breadth, intelligence, and systematic improvement that are the foundation of it, it is also a loss of his knowledge and approach it there is no systematic continuation and his old material is IP protected.

I do appreciate the ongoing project by a group of people to create a new and integrative comprehensive manual for Mahamudra self study. This will be an update to Peter Barth's book "A meditation guide for Mahamudra" (verbal communication).

It is of far greater importance than the experience of dramatic instantaneous pointing out that people be taught mahamudra as a full system of instruction that they can implement on their own gradually (Thrangu, 2011)

Thrangu suggests, in principle, a home study approach based on key works of Mahamudra such as "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning" (Wangchug Dorje 2017), or "Moonshine of Mahamudra" Namgyal, T. D. (2019)

Added: this is now an official project of the Mustang Bon Foundation (TBD Link to be added)

See also my post about "pointing out instructions".

Continuation of Daniel P Brown´s teachings

To my knowledge there are three people teaching in the tradition of POGW (ie having been taught, co-trained and "licensed" by Dr Brown).


Barth, P. (2017). A Guide For Mahamudra Meditation (English Edition) (3rd ed.) [PDF]. Mahamudra Meditation Center, Petaluma, USA. (Original work published 1998)

Operation Phoenix (Wikipedia)

Brown, D. P. & e2 films. (2018, June 5). The real Manchurian candidate [Video]. YouTube.

Short clip:

Other videos:

"Brown, D. P. & The Stoa. (2020, September 4). Dying: East and West w/ Daniel P. Brown [Video]. YouTube.

Brown, D. P. & Unknown Philosophers. (2021, November 17). UP033 GUEST DR. DANIEL P. BROWN [Video]. YouTube.

Brown, D. P., & Van Nuys, D. (2021, December 14). Working with Attachment and Trauma, with Daniel Brown, PhD. Medium. Retrieved October 29, 2023, from

Wilber, K., Brown, D. P., & Engler, J. (1986). Transformations of Consciousness: Conventional and Contemplative Perspectives on Development (New Science Library) (1st ed.). Shambhala.

Hammond, D. C. (2022). Memorial to Daniel P. Brown, Ph.D., ABPH. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 65(1), 79–82.


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